I came here today because of the beaver dam that I have to cross some two miles or so up the river. For me, it is, and they are, reminders that there is a something that is greater and untameable.
Thoreu's wildness quote is often misstated, wilderness being placed where wildness belongs. Wilderness and wildness are two very different things....wilderness being a place, and wildness being a quality... all wilderness being wild, but not all wilds being wilderness, and so forth.
The water in the mill pond is high and when I turn up the brush and tree lined Scantic River, the high water carries more current against me. But, it also gives me deep water to take full and powerful draws with the paddle, and the upstream progress goes with ease.
We need wildness, even though society most often acts like it is an opponent to be tamed. If all of the world's wildness were gone, I am sure mankind would create some, and probably by destroying ourselves.
A muskrat crosses my path and dives when I get too near. A great blue heron takes off from low, and soon, another takes off from a treetop. There is beaver sign all along the river...felled trees, girdled trees, piles of peeled branches, a bank burrow visible now with the foliage still down, some scent mounds. It is good. It is wild.
|the dam awash|
The beaver dam is awash. The spot where I can nose the canoe up against a tree and step out to lift it over is fast water today. Instead, I step out onto part of the downed tree that forms the foundation of the dam and slide the canoe into the pond. I pause in the pond for lunch near a tree where two nuthatches are scampering up and down the trunk mining for bugs. They ignore me. Perhaps, I am wild.
The current above the pond is faster and water is high. This section is "the meanders". It is constantly turning in tight brush lined bends and for me, every stroke of the paddle is an adjustment in direction...a draw stroke, a sweep, a backstroke, a blended mix of all of the above. If I was paddling with someone else, we'd probably spend a lot of time up against the brush.
I turn back at a fallen tree that requires a portage to continue.
We need the fallen tree to remind us that we are not in charge.